“It’s not one big, open Astrodome, … it’s trying to find ways of interfacing services to each other,” Claire Dannenbaum, reference and instruction librarian, said referring to the Center Building renovations that are nearing completion. “It’s conceived as a learning commons model, which is different from a lot of different units sharing a building together.”
This concept of a learning commons evolved out of an earlier idea implemented by college libraries in the ’90s. Its original goal was to integrate technology into a library’s offerings. The modern trend for these spaces is geared towards more holistic learning.
“A Learning Commons would be built around the social dimensions of learning and knowledge,” Yale University Librarian Emeritus Scott Bennett said in an essay in 2003.
Many people at Lane believe that the $35 million redesign of the Center Building will have a large impact on campus. Ian Coronado, interim division dean of Academic Technology, said that the goal of the renovation was to make the Learning Commons “the new heart of campus.”
“Where students will feel comfortable to spend large portions of time to be able to study, collaborate with their peers, [or] get a meal,” Coronado continued.
Floors two and three are officially designated as the Learning Commons, which includes the Library, Academic Technology Center, Student Help Desk, Tutor Central, Information Desk, Instructional Testing Services, Media Creation Lab, Center for Student Engagement, Print Release and Blenders Café.
Many students do not feel like they had explored the new facility enough to offer critiques, though some have voiced complaints about non-functioning electrical sockets in study spaces on the east side of the Library.
“It really sucks for when I’m trying to charge my laptop before class,” said student Nick Acheir. When asked about the issue, the Academic Technology Center had no knowledge of the problem, but reiterated that electrical wiring within the building was still being installed.
There are areas of the Learning Commons that are less commonly known, such as the Family Room. Christina Walsh, ASLCC student leadership program director, describes the area as a space that allows “any parent regardless of gender to go in and take care of their children’s needs.”
The Food Court, one floor below the Learning Commons, has also been redesigned to accommodate a number of separate food venues, including LimeFresh, StoneFire, RawBerry, FiveSpice and the new location of the Renaissance Room.
“They have a lot more healthy alternatives which I think is really important to student success,” Brian Sutovang, urban planning major, said. “If you don’t have a good diet you’re really not going to be able to focus on your classes.”
Others are critical of the pricing in the Food Court. “I like [the food choices], but I am a college student who also needs to pay for stuff,” Jesus Jorge Yanez said.
To help students get acquainted with the changes to the Center Building, Lane has developed the Learning Commons Passport program, which is a contest that involves collecting stamps at each of the new locations. Passports may be picked up at the Information Desk in the Center Building and at the student service area in Building 1. The deadline for the contest has been extended until Oct. 30, with prizes including an iPad, a tuition waiver and a Titan Store gift card.